Ice paused. "You don't look like a guard." He stopped and repeated it in Japanese. Not one of my better languages. "I think we may be here for the same purpose. What do they make in here?"
No more arrows from the shadows, but he kept the shield up. He couldn't see his assailant's face hidden under the black cloth wrap, even the eyes hard to read through a narrow slit. Ninja?
"I don't know the words . . . on my world Cyborg have attacked. Men with a metal left arm. Eye piece and a plate on their heads, controlling them and forcing them to do horrible things."
An almost imaginary nod from the undersized Ninja.
"I have things . . . not poison . . . it doesn't kill anyone, but it takes away the . . . we call it magic . . . of the Drei Mächte Bündnis Mentalists."
The small figure stiffened. Ice moved slowly and carefully, opening the chip and pulling out a net bag. "Are the round buildings up there water tanks?" He pulled out a glob, tore it open. "These could be split among ten small tanks, and do the job. If there are larger water tanks else where, use more."
He put the glob back and pulled out the wine. "This is magical healing wine. In three days it can dissolve the wires in a person's brain, if fed alcohol, in a month it can dissolve everything. Add it to more wine and the magic spreads. Get it into the slaves' food."
Then he brought out the coin charms. "There is protective magic on these. Not perfect, the strongest Mentalists can overcome it, but it will protect you from the weakest."
He closed the net bag and straightened. "What is in this building?"
"The parts. They force the slaves to make the parts for their robot men." Was there a sheen of moisture in those half hidden eyes? "We will burn it down."
Ice contemplated the building. "I . . . would advise waiting. The slaves will be blamed. First take the mentalists' magic, and free the slaves. Give the robot men the wine in their food as well. If they cannot be controlled, they will fight for you, not against you."
"Why do you have that ugly thing on your face?"
"It is just paint." Ice lied. "They will recognize the Detroyer, when he wishes to be recognized. And walk past unaware during the day."
Where the Hell did that come from?
Ice turned and walked away. When he glanced back both ninja and net bag were gone.
So, malnutrition, naturally small size, or yet another child?
Or all of the above?
He stopped for a location, crouched low and toppled over into his hiding place above the mountain road.
He hissed out a curse and checked his bicep. A surgically clean slice, a centimeter deep. Good thing I dodged. I don't think I can survive getting my throat cut.
He took a slug of wine then squeezed the cut together. Wiped it down and hoped the cut cloth and blood wouldn't be too obvious. Leaned back on the trunk of the tree and closed his eyes to meditate and . . . see if he could locate the Ninja. And his two friends with the bows.
And the Russians . . .
Not that the Russians felt much different from the Japanese True Men.
Actually I'm just assuming that since this is Japan, it's the Japanese part of the Drei Mächte Bündnis that have infested the place. And I'll probably never find out if that assumption is right or wrong. But there are three groups of four Bunnies moving around out there.
Nothing ten kilometers south, but that just might be distance.
Ice relaxed listening, sopping up warmth, checking the progress of the others as they started back.
Lord Matveev's quartet was back first, looking uncertainly up the street.
Ice stepped out and flagged them. "You're the first back. Federov's group will be here soon. Aleksandrov's is rather slow."
Matveev gave a tired grunt. "We'll wait for Federov, then we can go find a good spot for our departure, leaving a man behind to make sure he finds the right street."
Ice nodded. "As you wish." The old True Men want to keep control. But ten hours walking has worn him out. Wwe'd better not plan on walking all the way up to where we left. In fact . . . He looked around. "It's early enough in the morning that we could use one of these side street for our departure. The sooner gone, the less likely we'll be spotted . . . or . . . do we need to find a place we could begin our conquest from?"
Bogomolov snorted. "Oil lamps. A few batteries. No broadcast power."
Ice nodded glumly. "Well . . .we'll just keep trying. It beats sitting on our asses doing nothing."
That got him a few dubious glances.
But he stepped out to the north-south road and waved to catch Federov's attention as his group stopped, to look up the wrong street.
Matveev raised his brows. "I hope you had better fishing than I."
Federov shook his head. "No power. Shall we start slogging up this . . . "
They all felt it. The death of a powerful Mentalist.
Ice pulled out the tote with the beacon and baggies, and his wedge. "Take this and move uphill. I'm rested, I'll go see what has happened." He turned and ran. Heading south, telling himself that he should just let them die. They're the enemy. Just because Aleksandrov shows good sense in the field doesn't mean he isn't a mind-slaving Drei!
He stopped to grab a recognition point by a big pine. Ran on another kilometer before he felt the minds, and then caught the fight down a side street. Sprinted.
Three men surrounded by a dozen. All Drei Mächte Bündnis. Most of them Cyborgs.
Ice started with stun spells. Just in case they're nice guys, instead of the people who'd kill those Ninja kids. Then two hard pushes, to either side and Two of the Russians grabbed the one on the ground and hauled him past Ice.
"Keep going, I'll slow these guys down." His next stun spells bounced, so he switched to spin, fumble, trip. A broad, anchored shield, then he turned and ran
Beat the Cyborg charging out of a side street, a low push to trip them, he caught up to the trio as they turned the corner.
A fast recognition, the pine tree, teleportation spell, grab the trio and throw in power. Jump a kilometer down the road, no sign the stumbling trio noticed a thing in the dark.
Ice swooped in and took over one side. "Go ahead, find the turn."
Oh hell, it's Aleksandrov, and he's out cold.
Ledovskoy reached the corner, and beckoned, headed up the hill.
Kovalev grunted. "Closer than I thought."
"What happened to Yezov?"
"He tried to take the Cyborg that spotted us, and it shot him. He was well ahead of us, I hit the Cyborg with a death spell but he shrugged it off. Shot and hit Aleksandrov . . ." He was panting as he toted half again his own weight.
Not in too bad a shape.
They got to the corner and headed up. Ledovskoy was waiting at the path that ran to the living quarters behind the temple. Already wearing his white baggies. "In here, they don't want to wait any longer than they have to."
Ice grunted. "But they won't start looking for us . . . well, it's near enough the earliest, isn't it?" He grabbed the tote and tossed baggies to the other two, and slid his wedge under the beacon before helping to get Aleksandrov into baggies. He was donning his own when the wavering rainbow of the gate gave way to the sparking ball the opened to a ring of lightening.
The others crowded forward.
Ice grit his teeth. "Ledovskoy? Go through, then turn to catch Aleksandrov. You must snatch and jerk him hard, so he does not stop in the gate. Kovalev and I will throw him."
Kovalev snorted. "You make it sound easy."
"Just remember to let go."
"I'll help on this end." Yuli Chaykovski stepped behind the limp man, folded his legs up and lifted. Ran forward with them and gave a last heave.
A crashing tumble on the far side, that wouldn't have helped any injuries, but at least there were no body parts on this side.
Chaykovski waited for the ramp to clear then jumped through. Kovalev followed and Ice grabbed the straps and dived through.
The medics were bent over Alexsandrov. Ice sidestepped over closer to the German officer.
"Japan. Controlled by the Nippon Hundred, but no broadcast power."
"Indeed. The others will have more information, but this is not a good place for us Russians."
The man grunted and retreated. Aleksandrov was moved to a stretcher and carried away.
Ice walked home and had to embellish the Anonymous Ninja a bit to leave all of them laughing. And skeptical.
Rafail sighed. "I'm sorry to hear about Aleksandrov, though. He's the most competent of the lot."
Lada eyed his sleeve, the dried blood almost invisible on the black fabric, but said nothing.